By Mimi Jones / Latest News / 0 Comments

Kentish Gazette

Rosie Duffield MP

14.03.19

 

Last Friday was International Women’s Day, a day when we celebrate all women, raise awareness of the issues affecting us and consider the actions we can take to advance women’s rights. The fact is, we have much further to go until we achieve total economic, social, and political equality between women and men.

 

I’m really proud to be Canterbury’s first female MP. We’ve come a long way since the first woman was elected to Parliament in 1918. Now, 32% of MPs are women; it’s taken a long time to reach that figure, and while things are moving in the right direction, a lot still has to change, and change faster. 

 

In my view, the make-up of Parliament must reflect the society it is supposed to represent. That’s why I’ve been a strong advocate for #5050Parliament since being elected. The campaign does fantastic work to encourage more women to stand as MPs, and to spread the message of how important it is that we achieve a 50:50 split in the House of Commons. Perhaps if you know a woman who would make a great local councillor, why not ask them to stand? Sometimes, all it takes is a conversation or a little nudge to give someone the confidence to do so. 

 

While gender inequality exists around the world and takes many forms; it’s also right on our doorstep: Fantastic local homelessness charity Porchlight recently published research on how homelessness is affecting women in Kent. They found that Kent has one of the highest percentages of women rough sleepers in the country, and that homelessness affects them in very specific and worrying ways. These include being more likely to experience violence whilst on the streets and at higher risk of sexual assault or rape. They also found that the reasons why women end up homeless are more complex and multi-faceted than those for men.   Many are homeless because they are escaping domestic violence or abusive relationships, making their journey out of homeless extremely challenging.

 

I’m grateful to Porchlight for shining light on this issue, and for recently meeting with me again to share their findings. I’m keen to continue working with them as they begin to implement their strategy for tackling this issue and will help as much as I can in raising the matter beyond our area.

 

Also doing excellent work for women in Kent are domestic abuse charity Rising Sun. To put in perspective just how important their work is: 1.9 million people in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse last year, 1.2 million of whom were women. In Kent, 14,000 domestic abuse arrests were made in the year 2016-17. And the headline also emerged recently that in the UK, a woman dies from domestic abuse every three days.  These are really shocking numbers and further evidence of the progress that’s desperately needed. 

 

So while the journey to women’s equality has a way to go, it’s encouraging that we have these brilliant local groups providing support to the vulnerable women in our communities. But we’ve all got to play our part – let’s use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to educate others and ourselves.  Because while it’s true that gender disparity is preventing women from advancing in society, it’s also preventing our society from truly advancing as a whole.

By Mimi Jones / Latest News / 0 Comments

Kentish Gazette

Rosie Duffield MP column

28.02.19

I was thoroughly impressed by the school children that protested in Canterbury over climate change. Such action gives me faith in future generations, and, quite frankly, I’m sure they’ll make much better politicians than many of those that sit in the House of Commons. They are principled, strong-willed, and not afraid to take a stand about protecting the world they live in.

 

But the heartwarming feeling I get when seeing young people taking a stand quickly turns into frustration when I consider just how thoroughly they’re being let down. The protests were a blatant reminder that these young people are our future, and that this government is taking no notice of them, or of the issues involved. The government may have introduced the 5p bag rule, but they’re still yet to offer the radical plan on climate change that’s desperately needed. The government’s so called “clean growth strategy” published in October 2017 does not even put us on track to meet our existing emissions reductions targets for 2023 to 2032. It’s the millennial generation and younger that will bear the brunt of these poor decisions.

 

But unfortunately, this generation is being let down in more ways than one. A quick search on schoolcuts.co.uk is all that’s needed to grasp just how hard schools in the Canterbury and Whitstable area have been hit. Since 2014, 22 out of 29 schools in this constituency have faced funding cuts. Since being elected, I have been making my way around Canterbury and Whitstable’s schools, hearing first-hand from the teachers who are trying to deliver a quality education despite tightening budgets and simultaneous pressure to deliver on results. It’s simply inevitable, head teachers have told me, that cuts to funding combined with increased class sizes results in less attention to individual students which prevents them from being able to fulfill their potential.

 

Funding for further education colleges has been cut even more sharply than that for primary and secondary schools, and the average graduate accrues £50k worth of debt, before being faced with a constrained job market, along with no prospect of saving or securing reliable, affordable housing. Added to this, is the mounting mental health problems 1/10 are experiencing. It’s no wonder the government is so reluctant to let many of last week’s protestors their say. If 16 year olds could vote, knowing all this awaits them, what do you think they’d say?